In the 18th century almost every town had
its own racecourse, attended annually by the local nobility, farmers and
scallywags alike. Country racing was a rumbustious affair, with wobbly
grandstands, cock-fighting sideshows, spectators wandering onto the course and skullduggery
in the stables. By 1880 most of these country courses were no more, unable to
meet the stringent standards of the all-powerful Jockey Club. Free Rein celebrates the robust history
of racing before Rules. Ths story concludes with the creation of Newbury
Racecourse.Penelope Stokes has lived in Berkshire for over 25 years and has been writing local history for most of that time.